ERIE — Brashear used a big defensive play to grab an early lead in Saturday’s PIAA Class AAAA subregional semifinals at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
After that, all the big plays came from McDowell.
The District 10 champion Trojans (8-4) hit two long touchdown passes in a 2 1⁄2-minute span of the third quarter to take control in a 35-6 win over the City League champion Bulls (7-4).
Brashear’s Ronnie Wilkins returned a fumbled snap 74 yards for a 6-0 lead. McDowell responded with a long touchdown drive to go up 7-6 at halftime.
The Trojans then used a 40-yard pass from Levi Becker to Jake Tarasovitch and a 49-yard pass from Tarasovitch to Jared Carlson to build a 21-6 lead midway through the third.
McDowell added two more scores and will advance to the subregional final against State College next weekend.
“We felt confident at halftime that we were playing well,” Brashear coach Rick Murphy said. “But they hit a couple big plays there, and it just kind of spiraled.”
McDowell was driving inside the Brashear 30-yard line early in the second quarter when a turnover changed the momentum.
A shotgun snap got away from Becker, and Wilkins scooped it up at the 26 and went untouched for the score. The kick failed.
The Trojans responded on the next series, moving 57 yards in 10 plays capped by a 1-yard keeper by Tarasovitch on fourth-and-goal.
“It was big (to score right away),” McDowell coach Brad Orlando said. “I told these guys you have to immediately respond to adversity in a playoff game like this against a very talented team. From then on, I just thought we played good football.”
McDowell opened the second half with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by the first of two touchdown passes by Becker.
Brashear wiped out a big play — Therran Coleman’s 32-yard pass to Ty Powe to the McDowell 44 — by losing a fumble on the next play.
Three plays later, Tarasovitch dropped a pass into Carlson’s hands behind the coverage for a 49-yard score.
“We tried to concentrate on taking away some of their running game, and we did a decent job of it,” Murphy said. “They still got yards, but they weren’t really scoring that way. We knew they were going to change to something. We had to try to take away one aspect, and they got a couple big passes.”
Tarasovitch rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown and threw for 110 yards and a score for McDowell. Becker threw for 70 yards and two scores. Carlson caught four passes for 110 yards.
Powe ran for 21 yards to lead Brashear, which was outgained 426-86. Coleman passed for 67 yards.
John Dudley is a freelance writer.